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Shanahan has seen Garoppolo perform in playoff-type situations, so he’s not worried about Jimmy G’s first playoff start

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Shanahan acknowledged that it’s not just on Jimmy

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

This will not be Jimmy Garoppolo’s first postseason appearance. Garoppolo made the playoffs the first three seasons of his career and has two Super Bowl rings thanks to being a backup quarterback in New England. Garoppolo made it clear that he’s prepared the same way his entire career, and that preparation will continue as a starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers as they host the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional round on Saturday.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to the media on Tuesday discussing his quarterbacks first career start in the playoffs, and Shanahan didn’t sound too concerned at all. First, here is Shanahan on Garoppolo and his leadership skills:

“I think he’s a very good leader because he’s himself and people respect how he plays. Jimmy doesn’t change. Whether he’s doing really good or really bad, or whether he has a bad day or good day, he’s going to treat everyone the same. He’s always the same guy, the same friend, the same teammate. He works the same, regardless. I think just the way he talks to guys. He doesn’t sit there and talk down to people. That’s not really his style to ride people. But, he also has a way of holding people accountable by being himself, too. That stuff only works if you work, and also they respect how you play. Jimmy has earned that respect how he’s played; he’s earned it how he’s worked. I think the guys really appreciate him as a man.”

Steady Eddie. You can get a good sense that Garoppolo is down to earth. Even in his first playoff press conference, Jimmy G is joking about how he meant to throw it to the 19-year-old kid that caught the pass—a pass that cost Garoppolo $7,017. I also think it’s important to acknowledge Garoppolo is good. How many locker rooms have leaders that struggle to perform well on the field? Not many, if any.

Shanahan was asked which passing stats matter to him, and which stats indicate that Jimmy is having a good season, to which he said:

“I’d probably embarrass myself if I sat up here and talked too much stats because I guarantee you guys know them better than me. I just watch every play. I kind of just have a pretty good feel on whether he’s playing good or not. I think one of the biggest things in all of football is third down. There’s not much you can do on third down. There is stuff you can do scheming and everything, but not if you don’t have a really good quarterback. I think that’s always a pretty apparent stat to me. That’s not foolproof. There’s been lots of really good quarterbacks who their team hasn’t been good on third down. I think you just look at both teams. We’re both very committed to running the ball, but you look at third down. If you take out all runs on third down, we’re number one in the league, and Minnesota is number two. So, you’ve got two teams who run the ball, but that also shows you’ve got two quarterbacks.”

“I just watch every play” is the ultimate “film guy” response. I laughed at that, but I don’t think we give credit to how much work these coaches and players put in. Upwards to 16 hour days of constant studying and breakdowns. So when we (I) question why you didn’t throw the ball here on this down, it’s because a full week’s worth of prep told the coaching staff the defense would be susceptible in that area.

Third down is the money down, and Jimmy has been just that. San Francisco does a great job on first down, which makes third downs more manageable. Garoppolo knows where to go with the football, and generally makes a quick decision. The offense is eight percentage points better on third down this year, and Garoppolo is a big reason as to why. The 49ers were fourth in the NFL on third downs during the regular season. Two of the other teams in the top four were the Ravens and the Chiefs.

Shanahan was asked what will determine Garoppolo’s success in a new, playoff environment:

“How good he plays and how good everyone plays around him. That stuff is so funny to me because he could play great, and we might come up short. People will want to say he can’t win a playoff game. I felt like last week was a playoff game. That was pretty intense. Or whenever we played Seattle. I think he’s shown he can handle himself in poise. He’s played some really good games. Just like everybody, hopefully, he does it this Saturday, which will be his first playoff game. But, I think Jimmy has played in some pretty big games. Anyone who is around him in those games and talks to him and stuff it’s not much different in those games with him as a preseason game. He stays pretty much the same.”

Garoppolo being the same guy, should help calm nerves in the huddle. Garoppolo performing the same way he has as of late will help the 49er’s chances of winning. It’s not all on him, though, as Shanahan mentioned. What makes this team so dangerous is that they can beat you in a number of ways. Jimmy G is just one of many.